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The Great Sin: Adultery

Updated on June 11, 2015


Adultery is at the heart of many decimated families, friends and even churches. Marriage was God's idea, designed to be a lifelong commitment. Adultery violates that commitment. Extramarital sexual activity between a married person and another who isn't their lawful spouse, transgresses God's law.

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).

Why Do People Commit Adultery?

Those committing adultery, obviously anticipate they won't get caught. They have no expectations their wrong choices will harvest severe consequences.“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).

Most Christians who commit adultery normally have a low self worth and feel something is missing in their life. They want to feel good about themselves. Sadly, if we don't find this gratification through sex, we’ll find it through something else, like addiction, overeating, etc. Christians need to get to the root of their problems if they expect anything to change.

"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:21-25).

When we are made new in Christ, our past is behind us. Christ has shown us through His principles we don’t need to abuse ourselves sexually, physically, or spiritually. We can find everything we need through Him.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (II Corinthians 5:17).

Why do people have illicit affairs? Consider the following:

  • They focused on what they thought would meet their needs.

  • They rationalized God understood their situation.

  • They blamed their marriage partner for their problems.

  • They failed to look at the consequences.

  • They assumed their mate couldn't change.

  • They believed it would make them happy.

  • They thought they wouldn't get caught.

  • They were lured by lust.

Typical Signs of Infidelity

Those who have illicit affairs are quick to spin the truth in order to cover their tracks, yet this biblical proverb presents an intriguing perspective:

The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9).

Telltale signs of an affair are usually a combination of the following:

  • Changes in behavior, mood and spending patterns

  • Changes in normal routine schedules

  • Changes in physical appearance: clothes, jewelry, cologne

  • Less personal conversation

  • Less discussion

  • Less spontaneity, and sexual intimacy

  • More out of town business trips and unaccounted time away from home.

  • More faultfinding.

  • More emotional distance.

  • Unexpected gifts.

  • Anger at being questioned.

Reasons to Stop

There are 10 great reasons:

  1. The Bible forbids it.

  2. Your mate is wounded.

  3. Your piece is lost.

  4. Your health is threatened.

  5. Loss of God's blessings.

  6. A compromised morality.

  7. Your conscience is scarred.

  8. Loss of children's respect.

  9. Your integrity is destroyed.

  10. God condemns it.

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).

What Enables an Adulterer to Truly Change?

Becoming trustworthy is a significant sign you are growing in Christ like maturity.

  • Confess the adultery. Seek forgiveness from God and your spouse. The truth must be revealed for God to bring healing. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16)

  • Commit yourself completely to your covenant partner. Children don't hold a marriage together, commitment to the marriage covenant is the tie that binds a husband and wife. ]

Do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:14-15).

  • Cut all ties with the third-party. Affairs are not okay as long as no else one knows. Like any other sin, adultery can't be hidden, because God knows, the illicit partner knows, and in time, others will also. Eventually, the affair will blow up in their faces. People who have affairs can still love their spouses. It's possible to feel love for one person yet be enamored with another simultaneously.

  • Consider the difference between love and lust. "How can it be wrong if it feels so right?" This is an excuse many give. But love isn't merely a feeling. The acid test for knowing if something is right, isn't how it feels, but what God says about it. If sin never felt good, no one would be tempted to sin.

  • Count the cost. The excuse, as long as no one knows, no one will be hurt, is a fantasy. Adultery hurts everyone concerned. Guilt and God's judgment is brought not only upon one person, but both parties involved. Adultery destroys truthfulness, credibility, and one's testimony.

"A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so, destroys himself" (Proverbs 6:32).

Admitting an affair doesn't automatically make everything okay. The Bible says there is a vast difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is being sorry for getting caught. Godly sorrow is a deeply felt need for a change of direction, and behavior.

After admission of guilt, it important to remain on guard. Repetitive sin is often an easy trap because it's familiar territory. The Bible warns against eventual sin: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41).

Do's and Don'ts for the Faithful Mate

  • Use "I" statement to express your feelings. If you are suspicious, don't think bringing up the subject might put the thought in your mates mind. Discussing your honest feelings may relieve your thoughts, be a deterrent for the future, or be used by the Holy Spirit to convict others involved. Don't attack or blame. " Scripture tells us how to handle such an encounter: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over" (Matthew 18:15).

  • Express anger in a nondestructive way. Anger is a natural response to hurt, injustice, fear, or frustration. But,"in your anger do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26).

  • Don't pray for the spirit of God to guide decisions about leaving an adulterous spouse. Must a person stay married, even if their mates continues to commit adultery? Marital unfaithfulness is grounds for divorce. However, Jesus doesn't demand, divorce, in such cases, but rather permits it:

"Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9).

It's not necessary to have a mate to be whole. You can be whole in Christ:

"Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise" (Jeremiah 17:14).

  • Choose to forgive. Forgiving someone doesn't necessarily mean you must forget. Forgiving is remembering without bitterness, hatred, or resentment.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13).

  • Don't try to change your mate. This isn't your responsibility.

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14). The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts.

  • Don't blame yourself. It's common for spouses to wrestle with false guilt, feeling responsible for the affair. However, anything you did or didn't do, didn't cause your spouse to sin against you. You can't make another person sin. It was their personal choice. The Bible says in Romans 14:12

"Each of us will give an account of himself to God."

Minimizing or denying the situation doesn't change the fact it is sin. You can never meet all your mates needs. If you could, your mate would never have a need for God. God didn't create any one to meet another person's needs. God Himself promises to meet all our needs. Your sufficiency is to be in the Lord alone, not another person.

"God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ's Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).


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